June Tests provides Super 15 obstacle

The June test window is the latest in a long line of obstacles that are preventing the Super 14 being expanded to a Super15.

SANZAR are trying to find a way to keep the June international window open and keep momentum in Super Rugby at the same time.

The timing of the June International test window is set in stone due to the Northern Hemisphere’s calendar and it will be impossible finish the conferenced format Super15 concept before the tests – regardless of whether the competition kicks off in early February or early March.

South Africa want to start the Super15 in January or early February so that it does not interfere with the Currie Cup  for which they have already pre sold the TV rights for.

New Zealand and Australia would rather start in early March and don’t want to come out of the tests straight into a finals series and want at least two more round-robin games after the tests to help teams rebuild their momentum and rhythm.

In order to keep the momentum going in the tournament they are said to be working on a model that will see limited games take place during June but that means that the top players will be taken out of the tournament.

Plans are said to be in place that will see one Super Rugby game played in each country of each weekend of the test window. The plan according to the NZ Herald is to not play local derbies in this window but to try to schedule cross-border games.

But, with the playoffs expanding to six teams, the New Zealand and Australian model, even playing through the June window, would not see the competition finish until early August.

This then presents a major problem for South Africa as they have been instructed to only accept a structure that does not interfere with the Currie Cup .

New Zealand and Australia have to determine whether they are willing to accept a Super15 structure that moves straight to the playoffs after the June tests.

That format would remove the need to play games during the test window and it would see the finals end by mid-July to cause minimum disruption to the  Currie Cup .

But it would have to come with an early February start – which has commercial and player welfare ramifications – and it runs the risk of seeing teams coming into the crucial phase of the campaign on the back of a three-week lay-off.

Whatever they agree on the future plans must be submitted to broadcast partners by June 30.



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